“It’s hot today isn’t it?” says almost everyone we meet. Yes, it is hot. In the high thirties most afternoons. We wanted to escape the cold, pasty, dull, British winter and we’ve certainly managed that.
We are all permanently covered in a sheen of sweat, it sits in beads on our upper lips, pools in the small of our backs. Hair on the back of our necks feels like a thick woollen blanket and clothes are damp when they get stripped off small bodies.
Our stylish, light-filled apartment above a junk shop, in not-quite-gentrified Glebe, is an oven. It’s not airconditioned and only has windows at the front, so there’s no chance of a through draft. Water comes out of the tap as hot as bathwater and has to go into the freezer to become palatable. We sit in front of fans, like seals basking fatly on the beach, grateful for the small relief they offer. Sleeping is particularly hard and we’re having nightly battles with overheated, overtired children, who flail and thrash in their sweaty beds, trying and failing to get comfortable.
It’s kind of reassuring that the locals talk about it so much. We’re not just wimpy poms, who’s cold blood isn’t cut out for proper Aussie weather. It’s properly hot.
We’ve worked out coping strategies. We seek out watery entertainment every day, whether it’s a swim in the stunning olympic pool under the Harbour Bridge, a play in the water feature at the zoo’s farm or jumping in the waves at Bondi with the beautiful people. Hats get doused in water as a primitive form of on the road airconditioning and after swimming, we keep our wet togs on under our clothes. We seek out airconditioning like bloodhounds hunting a particularly smelly prey, and punctuate our days with meals in food courts and trips to modern museums.
When we’re out, we seek shade at all times, even a tiny patch is better than nothing. Stepping into the sun is like walking through the doors of a furnace, as hot wind blasts your face and the ground burns your feet through flimsy thongs, skin so hot you can almost hear it sizzling.
I spent last winter dreaming of heat, as I shivered beneath a multitude of layers. My feet weren’t properly warm from November to March. Perhaps you should be careful what you wish for.